“Industrial-enhanced” snow in Texas

February 10th, 2014

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible channel images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible channel images [click to play animation]

Examples of “industrial-enhanced snow” were seen in the Texas Panhandle region on 10 February 2014. In the overnight hours, areas downwind of agricultural plants near Borger (KBGD) received anywhere from 3.0 to 4.3 inches of snowfall. During the following morning and early afternoon hours, the particles contained within the hot, moist plume emanating from a factory located just northeast of Amarillo (KAMA) acted to glaciate the supercooled water droplets within the surrounding stratus deck — as the ice particles fell out of the cloud as snow, the cloud deck began to partially dissipate as seen in McIDAS images of 1-km resolution GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation).

A similar comparison of 4-km resolution GOES-15 and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (below; click image to play animation) confirmed that the plume streaming southward from the Amarillo area was indeed glaciated — the plume appeared significantly colder (brighter white) compared to the surrounding supercooled water droplet stratus cloud deck, which appeared warmer (darker gray) due to the shortwave IR channel’s sensitivity to the reflection of solar radiation off the liquid droplet cloud tops.

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images [click to play animation]

A comparison of AWIPS images of 1-km resolution Terra MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 3.7 µm shortwave IR channel, and 11.0 µm IR window channel images (below) provided a slightly sharper view than the GOES images. Again, the glaciated plume south of Amarillo appeared colder (brighter white) than the surrounding supercooled water droplet clouds; on the IR window channel image, the slightly warmer (darker gray) signature was due to the satellite sensing radiation from the warmer ground surface through the thinner glaciated areas of the cloud plume.

Terra MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 3.7 µm shortwave IR, and 11.0 µm IR window channel images

Terra MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 3.7 µm shortwave IR, and 11.0 µm IR window channel images

A 250-meter resolution Terrra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below; visualized using Google Earth) showed that the plume was drifting southward over parts of Interstate 27; one inch of snowfall was reported as far south as Happy, in the far northern part of Swisher county.

Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

===== 11 February Update =====

On the folllowing day, a Terra MODIS true-color image at 17:44 UTC (below; visualized using Google Earth) provided a fantastic view of the mesoscale patch of snow cover southwest of Borger, Texas.

Terra MODIS true-color image (visualized using Google Earth)

Terra MODIS true-color image (visualized using Google Earth)

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